Elwood 5566

On ‘Filial Piety’

Posted in Uncategorized by 노강호 on March 28, 2012

Following up on my recent post (Fulfilling a Promise to my Mother, March 22nd, 2012),

March 22nd, 2012), which focused on ‘filial piety,’ I recently stumbled upon two divergent posts on the subject. One is an excellent and touching explanation of filial duty while the other concerns the filial piety of Korean celebrities. I do not doubt that many western celebrities provide cars and houses for their parents; I believe Justin Bieber recently bought his mum a house, but what is interesting in the second account is the sense that filial loyalty is a gauge of one’s character and devotion. Maybe it’s the translation, and the article is brief, but they almost seem to be bitching about who is the best son.

Both posts are re-blogged in their entirety.

Re-blog 1 from: Encocoen Staff Blog

Traditional Chinese filial piety culture (中国の親孝行文化/中国孝道文化)

According to Chinese tradition, filial piety is the primary duty of all Chinese. Being a filial son means show respect to one’s parents during their lifetime and–as they grew older–taking the best possible care of them.

A story can best illustrate the concept of filial piety. During the Chin Dynasty (4th-5th Century CE), a boy named Wu Meng was already serving his parents in exemplary filial piety although he was just eight years old. The family was so poor that they could not even afford a gauze net against the mosquitoes. Therefore every night in the summer swarms of mosquitoes would come and bite them. Wu Meng let them all feast on his naked stomach. Even though there were so many, he did not drive them away. He feared that the mosquitoes, having left him, would instead bite his parents. His heart was truly filled with love for his parents.

Filial piety is a good virtual of Chinese people, and people from other countries should also learn from it. Parents gave us birth and nurtured us, therefore we have the obligation to respect them and to take care of them when they can no longer take care of themselves. Western countries have complete social welfare systems to support people financially after they retire, but older people often face loneliness; they long for somebody to talk to them, especially their children and grand-children. We should try our best to spend more time with them, talk to them, and take them to family gatherings and trips to the nature.

Filial piety can benefit our society. It can make our family tie stronger, and children can learn a lot from our attitude to our parents and from their grandparents. They can realize how important a family is to a person, and develop a strong sense of responsibility to their families and friends. For example, when it is necessary to stand out to defend our families and even the nation for danger, we will not hesitate to do so, because we know how important our families and our country are to us.

In short, the most important custom from my country that I would like people from other countries to adopt is to be good to their parents. It is not only ensure that our parents can be taken good care of when they are getting old, but also help our children to develop good virtues and spirits.

(Published 0n 19th Oct 2011)

Re-blog 2 from: 2Elf4Suju

Kyu-hyun showing his filial piety : bought the apartment for his parents, new car for her Mom & guaranteed for his Dad’s Korean academy in Taiwan

Kyuhyun said he guaranteed his father’s business.

On 7 March’s broadcast of MBC’s ‘Golden Fishery- Radio Star’, MC Kyuhyun shared the filial piety that he showed to his parents, and boasted to guests 2AM that he guaranteed his father’s business, attracting much interest.

When the MCs asked “What have you done for your parents?” as 2AM were answering about buying cars, houses and other presents, Kyuhyun added that he didn’t lose in the area of filial piety. He mentioned that he bought “A 40th storey apartment in Wolgokdong” as a present for his parents.
He added, “The car that I’m driving now used to belong to my mum, so I got her a new car as a present. I also guaranteed the Academy that my father opened in Taiwan.” which got the attention of everyone.

(Cho Kyu-hyun is a member of the K-pop boy band Super Junior, and sub groups Super Junior-M and Super Junior-K.R.Y.)

권수빈 for Newsen

http://www.newsen.com/news_view.php?uid=201203080003381001

Chinese translation by hyunlove
Translated to english by @kikiikyu

(Published 8th March, 2012. http://2elf4suju.wordpress.com/

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Fascinating Physogs – A Tour of Some Korean Totem Poles

Posted in Art, customs, Photo diary by 노강호 on January 29, 2012

an assembly of jangseung

I am always fascinated by the designs of Korean totem poles, known as jangseung (장승) and have previously written about their character in relation to the nature of Korean wood (Village Sentinels Nov, 2010). I recently visited Dong Nae Traditional Folk Village in Cheollanamdo, near Suncheon Bay, where there is a large collection of old and new jangseung. Some were functional village guardians performing their traditional role of protecting the village while others were either decorative or provided directions.

Jangseung are incredibly emotional and part of their allure lies in the relationship between the form of the wood and the manner in which it has been carved. The carving below, actually the sign for the toilets, is a good example of this synthesis. The nature of the wood, twisted and buckled has been enhanced by the knotted and gnarled face that so clearly conveys ‘agony, discomfort and urgency.’  ‘Bursting for the bathroom’ is expressed both by the face and the ‘buckled’ wood and though you can’t see the knees, you know they’re probably ‘knock-kneed.’ So successful is this synthesis you can feel the discomfort. The symbiotic relationship between wood and carving is so entwined they seem inseparable and even if the face were to be carved away the remaining form would still convey ‘urgency’ and ‘discomfort.’ Of course, there are other emotional expressions to which this one piece of wood could be adapted.

'bursting'

This example, a newly erected jangseung,  bore an inscription in hanja. Most jangseung are either inscribed in hangeul or hanja. The first four characters of this inscription are probably from the Thousand Character Classic (千字文) and basically means ‘good son, good father’ (휴자휴부) but the full meaning is more complex and is related to the concept of ‘filial piety’ (효도-효 -孝), one of the most fundamental principles of Confucian philosophy and still of importance in modern Korea. Among many other things, ‘piety’ involves taking care of one’s parents, being respectful to them and not being disobedient. The fifth character is that of village, so the inscription loosely means, ‘village of pious sons and fathers.’

'village of filial piety'

'dreams come true'

another hanja inscription - 'the place where you can fulfil your desire'

a rather amusing uninscribed jangseung

Jangseung often appear in male and female pairs and are distinguished by their head apparel; the male hat is more elaborate. Quite often, the inscriptions refer to ‘generals,’ major generals’ or male and female generals. Korean folklore has a special place for the mischievous ‘ghost,’ known as the dokkaebi (독깨비) who haunt mountains and forests. This ‘ghost’ is quite dissimilar to the European ghost and is actually a transformation of an inanimate object rather than a dead person. Dokkaebi tease and punish bad people and reward good deeds by way of a strange club, or ‘wand’ which when struck  ‘summons’ things. They also wear a spiky hat known as a ‘gamtu’ which can render them invisible.  Below are the ‘Female Ghost General’ and the ‘Ghost Major General.’

A pair of 'ghost' guardians

an uninscribed jangseung with a large 'burr' for a nose

Weathered jangseung. Note the phallic incorporation of the flanking poles

a female general, (protector of the ground?)

A typical male design. This is the Major General protector, for Suncheon, the town closest to Dongnae Village.

Grandmother protectors

Leaving the village with a newly purchased teacher's stick (actually on my birthday)

Creative Commons License
©努江虎 – 노강호 2012  Creative Commons Licence.

FURTHER REFERENCES

Village Sentinels – Totem Poles (Bathhouse Ballads November 2010)